MARTINSVILLE — A Trafalgar man was sentenced to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of another man during a dispute about a woman.
Justen Knapp, 20, pleaded guilty to the murder of 20-year-old Bradley Kyle Price of Nineveh in October. Knapp said he repeatedly shot Price in a field north of Morgantown where they had met to fight.
Price’s mother told the court during the sentencing hearing that her son had his whole life ahead of him after recently earning his GED and landing a new job.
Morgan County Superior Court 1 Judge G. Thomas Gray sentenced Knapp to 45 years in prison, the minimum he could receive on the murder charge, and five years on probation. Gray noted that Knapp shot Price five times, but that fact was outweighed by other factors, including that Knapp was 19 at the time of the shooting, that he had no previous criminal record, and that Knapp had given an apology that struck him as heartfelt and not what he is used to hearing from defendants making bids for leniency.
Knapp read a prepared statement in the sentencing hearing Thursday saying nothing he could say or do would bring Price back, that his family would hate him for eternity and that he accepted his
punishment because he was responsible. He said that he had been in a drug-induced haze at the time of the shooting but now could see clearly and had to live with the burden of what he did.
He faced a sentence of no more than 50 years in prison because of a plea agreement with the Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office.
A murder charge carries a sentence 45 to 65 years in prison in Indiana, but the prosecutor’s office agreed to a sentence of no more than 50 years in exchange for the guilty plea. The prosecutor’s office also dropped a felony charge of using a firearm in a murder.
When they first met, Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega told Price’s mother, Vicki Price, that he wished he could pursue the death penalty but the case didn’t qualify.